Friday, January 16, 2015

Cruising the Web

At first I thought this was a joke on Twitter, but no, this is how our Secretary of State addresses tensions remaining from the American no-show for the unity march. Kerry had James Taylor come in and sing "You got a friend" to Hollande. I guess this is what this administration does when hashtag diplomacy fails - we move on to geezer rock.

David Harsanyi expounds on how Europeans seems to always want to blame Jews for the desires of others to kill Jews. The most recent evidence was the effort that French President Hollande made to try to get Benjamin Netanyahu to not attend the unity march.
Hollande asked Benjamin Netanyahu not to attend the unity demonstration in Paris—a march that also featured an assortment of officials representing authoritarians, censors, and terror funders professing support for free expression—so that everyone “could focus on demonstrating solidarity with France, and to avoid anything liable to divert attention to other controversial issues, like Jewish-Muslim relations or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

It is unclear if Mahmoud Abbas, a man was only recently was in talks to form a unity government with Hamas (whose constitution literally works off the premises of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion) was told to stay away from Paris. But there he was. No offense given. Or taken. So was Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. So were others.

Whatever you make of Netanyahu’s politics, French Jews who now live with thousands of security personnel guarding their synagogues and schools were not the ones that Hollande was most concerned about offending. Iran’s Hassan Rouhani could have shown up to publicly deny the Holocaust and there still would be no mob surrounding Grande Mosquée de Paris to terrify worshippers inside. And unlike the four French Jews who were slaughtered at the kosher grocery store in Porte de Vincennes—and who are now buried in Jerusalem—there will be little if no concern about the desecration of the graves of Muslim victims of terror.

This is probably because there really is no “Jewish-Muslim” problem in France. There is only a Muslim one. To claim otherwise is to create equivalency where there is none and to lay culpability where it doesn’t exist.

Unless, that is, you, like the Islamic gunman, believe that there’s no difference between a Jewish French shopkeeper or the Jewish “settler.” Actually, generally speaking, the Islamic terrorists blame Israel less frequently than, say, a BBC newsreader, we just don’t listen to them. Take Tim Wilcox, who while covering the Paris rally asked a Jewish woman if she believed, even after the terrorist massacre, if the problems France faced could be “resolved” before “it’s too late?”

The woman, perhaps an eternal optimist, said: “Yes, of course. We have to … not to be afraid to say that the Jews are being—they are the target now. It’s not only the…”

Wilcox interrupted to helpfully inform her that, “Many critics, though, of Israel’s policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well.”

Indeed they would. When Jon Stewart asked Jimmy Carter if he had something useful to add on “The Daily Show,” the former president offered the sort of reasoning that antagonists to the Jewish state will always propose when asked about terrorism: “Well, one of the origins for it is the Palestinian problem, and this aggravates people who are affiliated in any way with the Arab people who live in the West Bank and Gaza, what they are doing now—what’s being done to them. So I think that’s part of it.”

So genocidal Nigerians, Iranian executioners, Saudi monarchs, Chechnya suicide bombers, and Indonesia mass murders are all driven to vile acts of violence because Jews refuse to hand over a slip of land to their sworn enemies in a contested area? I can’t think of a comparable case being made about anyone anywhere in the world. Yet this one is almost inevitably suggested on some level when we talk about terror.

And what Hollande and others need to understand is that, as Ruth Wisse explains, "anti-Semitism is never solely about the Jews." Going back in history, anti-Semitism was a cloud to distract from the insufficiencies of the haters' own societies.
But deflecting dissatisfaction does not arrest it. Ignoring crises does not eliminate them. Appeasing terror does not defeat it. Arab leaders would have done better to resist the temptations of anti-Semitism and follow the Jews’ example. The recovery of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel showed, and continues to show, the possibilities of creative renewal. Who knows what Arab societies could accomplish if they likewise had the confidence to look inward and undertake serious reform?

For their own safety, those already living in free societies have to hunt down the terror cells to destroy them. But beyond them, what needs to be confronted is the ideology that brought terrorism into being. Only the incubators of this fatal hatred can accomplish that. The rest of the world can help by refusing to join the diversion of condemning Israel and by urging Arab and Muslim leaders to make up for seven lost decades of blame.

Kevin Williamson looks at the confirmation bias behind various attempts to demonstrate that watching Fox News makes people stupid for believing things that just aren't so.
Ironically, these “Fox News Viewers Are Stupid!” stories are little more than a large and intense exercise in confirmation bias, indulgences of the very thing that the people who push them attribute to their antagonists. The Left has learned over the years that winning debates is difficult but discrediting people and institutions is relatively easy. You point the finger and yell “racist!” or “stupid!” or “stupid racist!” long enough and loud enough and it will start to stick. And for a long time, the Left did not have to do very much debating, because there was no Fox News, no Rush Limbaugh et al., and no conservative alternatives online. Now there are, and so the Left’s most pressing order of business is the delegitimization of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh et al., and conservative alternatives online. And if that doesn’t work, Harry Reid is ready to repeal the First Amendment, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is ready to see you locked up for your political views.

And when that happens, you can bet that somebody will publish a study finding that it’s the only rational thing to do.

Charles Krauthammer contemplates how wedded Obama is to his claims that we are not involved in a war on terror because he already won that war.
On the contrary, the no-show, following the near silence, precisely reflected the president’s profound ambivalence about the very idea of the war on terror. Obama began his administration by purging the phrase from the lexicon of official Washington. He has ever since shuttled between saying that (a) the war must end because of the damage “keeping America on a perpetual wartime footing” was doing to us, and (b) the war has already ended, as he suggested repeatedly during the 2012 campaign, with bin Laden dead and al-Qaeda “on the run.”

Hence his call in a major address at the National Defense University to “refine and ultimately repeal” Congress’ 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, the very legal basis for the war on terror. Hence his accelerating release of Gitmo inmates — five more announced Wednesday — fully knowing that up to 30 percent have returned to the battlefield (17 percent confirmed, up to 12 percent suspected but not verified). Which is why, since about the Neolithic era, POWs tend to be released after a war is over.

Paris shows that this war is not. On the contrary. As it rages, it is entering an ominous third phase.

The first, circa 9/11, involved sending Middle Eastern terrorists abroad to attack the infidel West.

Then came the lone wolf — local individuals inspired by foreign jihadists launching one-off attacks, as seen most recently in Quebec, Ottawa and Sydney.

Paris marks Phase 3: coordinated commando strikes by homegrown native-speaking Islamists activated and instructed from abroad. (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo killings, while the kosher-grocery shooter proclaimed allegiance to the Islamic State.) They develop and flourish in Europe’s no-go zones where sharia reigns and legitimate state authorities dare not tread.

To call them lone wolves, as did our hapless attorney general, is to define jihadism down. It makes them the equivalent of the pitiable, mentally unstable Sydney hostage taker.

The Paris killers were well-trained, thoroughly radicalized, clear-eyed jihadist warriors. They cannot be dismissed as lone loons. Worse, they represent a growing generation of alienated European Muslims whose sheer number is approaching critical mass.

The war on terror 2015 is at a new phase with a new geography. At the core are parallel would-be caliphates: in Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State; in Sub-Saharan Africa, now spilling out of Nigeria into Cameroon, a near-sovereign Boko Haram; in the badlands of Yemen, AQAP, the most dangerous of all al-Qaeda affiliates. And beyond lie not just a cast of mini-caliphates embedded in the most ungovernable parts of the Third World from Libya to Somalia to the borderlands of Pakistan, but an archipelago of no-go Islamist islands embedded in the heart of Europe.

This is serious. In both size and reach it is growing. Our president will not say it. Fine. But does he even see it?

Rich Lowry is amused by the rhetorical convolutions White House spokesman Josh Earnest went through to try to say that we are not at war with "radical Islam."
Forget clarity—the administration has lapsed into unselfconscious ridiculousness. Asked why the administration won’t say we are at war with radical Islam, Earnest on Tuesday explained the administration’s first concern “is accuracy. We want to describe exactly what happened. These are individuals who carried out an act of terrorism, and they later tried to justify that act of terrorism by invoking the religion of Islam and their own deviant view of it” (emphasis added).
This makes it sound as if the Charlie Hebdo terrorists set out to commit a random act of violent extremism and only subsequently, when they realized that they needed some justification, did they reach for Islam.
The day before, Earnest had conceded that there are lists of recent “examples of individuals who have cited Islam as they’ve carried out acts of violence.” Cited Islam? According to the Earnest theory—if this formulation is to be taken seriously—purposeless violent extremists rummage through the scriptures of great faiths, looking for some verses to cite to support their mayhem and often happen to settle on the holy texts of Islam.

It was in this spirit that State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said on Fox News that the militants of Boko Haram “claim to be active in the name of Islam” (emphasis added). So add alleged insincerity to the list of offenses that can be attributed to the hideous group formally known as People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad.
The problem with all this dancing around the obvious is that it makes it impossible to take Islamic terrorists seriously on their own terms. Both Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin were “violent extremists,” but it is impossible to understand either without acknowledging their ideological motivations—and calling them by their proper names.

Perhaps the administration’s highest-profile initiative in response to Paris is a Summit on (what else?) Countering Violent Extremists. It seeks “to prevent violent extremists and their supporters from radicalizing, recruiting, or inspiring groups in the United States and abroad to commit acts of violence.”

Who are these violent extremists with such magnetic pull and global reach? They could be anybody, to believe the administration. It is certainly true that you will always have random haters and nuts, including Christian nuts like the evil Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik. And it is certainly true that there are a few non-Islamic groups on the State Department terrorism list.

But they aren’t top of mind, and for good reason. The Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo isn’t launching many attacks on the West. Basque terrorists aren’t recruiting would-be operatives around the world to come back to Spain and learn how to make bombs for spectacular attacks overseas (in fact, the ETA has declared a cease-fire)....

One of the differences between random killers and Islamic terrorists is that the latter have a significant physical and ideological infrastructure behind them, including terror groups that hold territory and Islamic authorities who justify jihad.
The Ayotollah Khomeini didn’t think Islam is what we would understand as a religion of peace. Was Khomeini, despite his lecturing for decades at centers of Islamic learning, and notwithstanding his leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran, not a Muslim?
Saudi Arabia, the Sunni counterpart of Shia Iran that also imagines itself the keeper of the faith, promotes a harsh version of Islam that has proved a potent breeding ground for terrorism. Are the Saudis not Muslim, either?

So is there room for Marco Rubio in the 2016 GOP nomination fight?

Having both Romney and Jeb Bush in the nomination fight is actually good for conservatives.

So how would the foreign policy of a tea-party president be different from that of other Republicans? Does Lindsey Graham have any idea of how he's regarded by most Republicans?

Are you feeling the excitement for John McCain's "illegitimate son" to run for president?

Chris Christie's possible path in the nomination fight will be limited by the woes of the New Jersey economy. Christie seems to want to get out of his state as much as possible. And New Jerseyites recognize this.
Mr. Christie’s approval rating has plummeted to 39% from 73% two years ago. Part of the governor’s problem may be his fractious relationship with the legislature and his failure to deliver on pledges. Last spring he broke his promise—enshrined by law—to adequately fund pensions in return for Democrats voting to reduce benefits. Now he’s exhorting Democrats to cut a deal on more aggressive pension reforms.

Another problem could be a sense among New Jerseyans that he’s lost interest in being governor. Mr. Christie spent 150 days out of the state last year campaigning as head of the Republican Governors Association. He trekked to Iowa, though Gov. Terry Branstad wasn’t in danger of losing re-election, and to Pennsylvania, where Tom Corbett trailed by double digits and had little chance of winning. Both states could come in handy during a Chris Christie presidential bid, but that’s of less interest to Garden State voters who want a governor attentive to their needs.

New Jersey Democrats surely can’t wait for Mr. Christie to move on, and perhaps neither can Mr. Christie.

Democrats are trying to figure out where they go from here with minorities in both houses and most state legislatures. As usual, they blame gerrymandering and messaging problems for their losses. It always seems to be the fallback positions of losers that it's not them or their policies that are at fault, but inadequate messaging.

Peggy Noonan begs Romney not to run.
I add two reasons Mr. Romney should not run.

This is a moment in history that demands superior political gifts from one who would govern. Mitt Romney does not have them. He never did. He’s good at life and good at business and good at faith. He is politically clunky, always was and always will be. His clunkiness is seen in the way he leaked his interest in running: to mega-millionaires and billionaires in New York. “Tell your friends.”

Second, Romney enthusiasts like to compare him with Ronald Reagan, who ran three times. This is technically true, though 1968 was sort of a half-run in which Reagan got in late and dropped out early, because he wasn’t ready for the presidency and knew it. But his 1976 run was serious, almost triumphant, and won for him the party’s heart.

The real Romney-Reagan difference is this: There was something known as Reaganism. It was a real movement within the party and then the nation. Reaganism had meaning. You knew what you were voting for. It was a philosophy that people understood. Philosophies are powerful. They carry you, and if they are right and pertinent to the moment they make you inevitable.

There is no such thing as Romneyism and there never will be. Mr. Romney has never encompassed a philosophical world. He has never become the symbol of an attitude toward government, or an approach to freedom or fairness. “Romneyism” is just “Mitt should be president.” That is not enough.

Joy Pullmann writes at The Federalist to explain why free community college is a bad idea.